The poster boy of Indian football, Bhaichung Bhutia, has hailed the Supreme Court’s decision granting voting rights to eminent players in the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) elections, adding that it will give players, who tend to get forgotten post-retirement, an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of the game in the country.
The apex court in its verdict on August 3 had directed the inclusion of eminent footballers in the AIFF management, ruling that the general body of the federation should add 36 players (male and female) to the 36 state association members already existing.
The court had also ruled that elections should be held in accordance with the National Sports Code and Article 26 of the AIFF’s draft constitution, which provides for a fixed tenure and age limit for office-bearers.
“I welcome the verdict of the Supreme Court to grant voting rights to eminent players in AIFF. In our country, players are forgotten after retirement and left out of the sport, even though they still have so much to offer. Only a player can understand the pain of players and what they need to prosper. This judgement has given players dignity in retirement,” said Bhutia.
Jo Paul Ancheri, another stalwart, greeted the verdict and said, “I am so happy that the Supreme Court has finally given voice to former players who were forgotten after retirement. Players can now be actively involved in administration and continue to contribute to the sport after retirement. Experience and expertise of eminent players will now be put to good use.”
“It’s great that the Supreme Court has given voice to the players in the administration of the sport. It’s a viable career option for the players after retirement and a welcome move for the welfare and future of the players,” said Sandesh Jhingan, the current pillar in defence for the Men in Blue.
Former India goalkeeper Sandeep Nandi, Nirmal Chettri, Sanju Pradhan, Anwar Ali, Anas Edathodika, Raman Vijayan and Subhasish Roy Chowdhury too expressed their happiness over the direction of the Supreme Court, while regretting the fact that the sport has largely been run by politicians and businessmen who don’t necessarily understand the ethos of the sport.
They also underlined the fact that a footballer’s love for the game is lifelong and doesn’t end with retirement, and the verdict will serve as a lifeline to the players who have served their country for long.